What is Working Memory?
Working Memory is the ability to work with information. That is, the conscious processing of information. In other words what you do each and everyday, listen to your colleagues on the phone whilst you try to finish off writing an email, listen to the kids telling you about their day whilst trying to read a recipe and cook, or reading a book as you help your child with their homework.
A strong Working Memory is paramount for success in our daily lives. It allows us to focus on a given task, make decisions about it and intentionally ignore anything else. It allows us to prioritise information, pay attention to particular tasks, think fast, take risks, make decisions, adapt to new situations, achieve long term goals and stay positive. As you can see a strong Working Memory is imperative in our fast paced world.
RIP IT UP Reading is a cognitive approach to reading.
Working Memory & Reading
A deficit in Working Memory has a significant impact on reading acquisition. Reading requires a strong Working Memory as a child not only has to read the words on the page but needs to recall the information they have read and predict future information. For children with deficits in Working Memory this process is flawed and the acquisition of reading is a constant progression through numerous remedial programs where improvement does not match the time dedicated to the support process. In other words the child constantly fails.
The three rules for reading intervention with the RIP IT UP Reading program are:
Always conduct reading intervention in locations where distraction is minimised
Decrease the cognitive load of the task.
What do kids with Working Memory Deficits find difficult?
A strong Working Memory is the best advantage in school and is causally related to grades. Knowing a child's Working Memory is a powerful tool that can be used to change the learning outcomes of children.
They find tasks involving focussing, switching activities, multi-layered directions and timed activities difficult to undertake.
Parents and Teachers should never assume that a quiet or daydreaming student is lazy or the class clown is simply naughty. These children may be shutting down or acting out as the tasks they are given are too cognitively demanding.
Understanding the rationale behind behaviours and correctly identifying children is paramount to success in changing learning outcomes.
Understanding instructions is one of the most demanding tasks for a student's Working Memory. Therefore knowing what is chronologically appropriate is imperative to assisting.
Number of instructions by age:
5-6 years of age: 2 instructions
7-9 years of age: 3 instructions
10-12 years of age: 4 instructions
13-15 years of age: 5 instructions
16 years of age and over: 6 instructions